It was early New Year’s Day and Deanne, Sarah and I were driving home after celebrating the turning of the year. As we were approaching an intersection we were confronted by a dozen naked joggers. Yes, absolutely in the all-together except for stocking caps and running shoes. I didn’t recognize any of you for which I am thankful. But, I knew then that my initial sense of preaching on revelation was on the right track. These runners were indeed a sign from heaven!
Soren Kiergegaard, the great Danish philosopher of the 19th century once was musing about romantic love and he said, as I remember and interpret it, that the moment right before the first kiss is so filled with anticipation, hope and fear that it is one of those holy hushed moments–of risk and revelation. According to the great philosopher it is all downhill after the moment before the kiss–nothing could ever match it. Well, I am not quite sure that I agree with Kiergegaard fully that it is all downhill after the first kiss, but I do, in a way, understand what he is talking about.
Revealing oneself is very difficult for most, if not all. Lowering the 7th veil and telling someone you love them has tremendous risks. The person to whom you express your love can reject you. I have, as many of you have, gone through that embarrassment and pain. And that moment right before you say it, share it, is one of excruciating tension. But if you don’t reveal, you will never know and it might just be that the love is accepted and given back–and isn’t that wonderful?
Revealing a truth long covered up is another of those moments where everything it seems hangs on the balance–and time slows and everything telescopes to the instant. And you want to tell the truth because you just have to get it off your chest, it is time–hiding is no longer an option. But as a wise person once told me, “telling the truth has gotten more people in trouble than anything else.” And some would rather remain in the lie and cover up and carry on. But there are times in the night when the burden is heavy.
Revealing can bring rejection and hurt and anger–but it is also the only path to liberation and really the only path to a future. Revelation is the only way to reconciliation.
Revealing a weakness? Well, that is often forbidden in our culture–to admit that you are not as good as someone else, that you are on meds, or live with a chronic condition, or have struggled mightily with alcohol or drugs? That is a step that is in some cases is too painful to go through. And yet…and yet…without the revelation there is no hope. And coming clean and baring it all is the only way, the only way to new life. It is like bursting up and out of submersion and submission into the light. It is so risky and yet….
And I think of the whistler blower at work–who reveals the crime of false numbers, or faked bottom lines, or the one who finally tells of improper sexual advances. Many have faced unpleasant consequences for such noble action. There is always the pressure NOT to reveal, but the tension is too great. It is, I guess, almost like giving birth. But without revelation there is no justice, no way to begin the process towards atonement.
Just imagine–and for some this is not imaginary but actual–telling your family or your friends that you are gay or lesbian or transsexual–revealing that, particularly to, say a father and mother for whom homosexuality has always been an abomination.
Revelation has led to suicide. But revelation has also led to a deeper love and appreciation.
Revealing is hard work, hard work. It makes you vulnerable–it shows your heart, you have to give up a bit of control, if not all and just lay it out there. No wonder so many of us stifle the truth, deny the truth, do everything we can NOT to reveal what is really going on, deep in the heart, where the soul meets the bone.
And I would say, no wonder that there is so much violence and so much depression, and so much angst because we would do anything to appear strong when we are weak, appear whole when we are broken, wise when we are sometimes pretty foolish.
“No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
Remarkable words, unbelievably important to you and to me, to this world. God has revealed Godself–himself, herself–in Jesus. God has shown her heart. God has lowered the 7th veil. God has leaned close to you and me and said “I love you.” God has shown divine power in powerlessness–in a manger, on a cross–shown herself in the powerless of the world, among the benighted creatures as servant, as foot washer, as the one who touches the untouchable, and accepts the unacceptable. And God’s revealing his own heart, her own soul leaves God vulnerable–at our mercy. We can reject it–we can easily say, “No thank you.”
Do you want a God like that–a God that vulnerable? Many think of God as this power that keeps us safe, that redirects hurricanes, and keeps bad things from happening (at least to me and my loved ones.) We want to believe in a God that punishes the bad and rewards the good and so we try our best to be good. We want someone, anyone in control–and a vulnerable God, a God who walks among us and becomes one of us is off putting. We know us–it gets pretty chaotic around us, inside us…and to consider, even for a moment, that God is not pulling strings, and not making everything smooth, is too much.
God has told the truth though–God is in the world, we came into being through God, God comes to us in Jesus, revealing his form and face and heart and soul and, just as much as in the first century, we don’t even see or accept a God like this. Well maybe.
But then there are moments, precious moments–when we do see, and we do bump into the majesty of holiness, and we catch a glimpse of what it might be like to tell the truth, to be truly ourselves, to let all the stuff go and reach out and ask for help and offer to help others. And we believe that something more powerful then denial, more powerful than lies and cover-up, more powerful than silence, more powerful than doubt, more powerful than our own mortality is in play.
We look at a baby.
We let the tears go and we find arms that hold us.
We gather around a table and laughter comes and times stands still and there is holiness.
We hold hands around the bed of a mother who is dying–and prayers come, and stories flow, and tears and laughter co-mingle, and yes, there is the presence, the quiet companion, the holy hush and you just want to whisper.
And you tell the truth and are forgiven.
And the tears tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
And you do the right thing and damn the consequences and you stand humbled in the conviction of righteousness.
And you tell someone you love them, and they say it back to you and you believe them.
These are moments when we know that we have become, and are, a Child of God–not of blood, not of flesh, not of the will of any human–but of God.
Maybe you and I do know. Maybe we do like the hope of a God so close.
We have just celebrated Christmas–the incarnation–God becomes flesh and blood–a little boy child. We will break bread and share the cup and what is that but a memory of revelation–that God’s body can be broken in pain and God’s blood can be poured out in agony. We get God’s full Monty there!
But in the revelation comes redemption, the hope, the joy and now the bread broken is for sharing and distribution–abundantly good. The cup poured out is for refreshment and energy so that we can carry on in love.
God took the risk of revealing himself to the world and to you, each one of you.
So risk revealing yourself to God
Risk revealing yourself to another.
In this you will see God. In this you will know God. In this your will know how beloved and indispensable you are to the work of the kingdom that is even now revealed and revealing.